Despite being on the WKU bench for more than a year, redshirt freshman guard Kendall Noble had never logged a minute on the Diddle Arena bcourt in a Lady Topper uniform before Saturday’s win over Murray State.
Noble returned to the court over the weekend following a series of injuries that kept her off the hardwood for over 11 months.
The Hazard native scored four points on a perfect 2-of-2 shooting from the field in an 86-63 victory over the Lady Racers. Noble said she was both anxious and excited to play in front of Lady Topper fans.
“It was great,” Noble said. “Finally got to play at Diddle as a Lady Topper, so that was nice. I was a little timid.”
Oddly enough, the 5-foot-11-inch guard was familiar with Diddle Arena before she sported the WKU red and white. Noble played in six high school tournaments held in Diddle Arena as a member of the Perry County Central High School girl’s basketball team before joining the Lady Toppers. She is the first player in state history to compete in six straight tournaments.
Noble tore her left anterior cruciate ligament in her junior season at PCCHS, but battled back onto the court to average 14.5 points while shooting 60 percent from the field and 9.1 rebounds a game in her final season for the Commodores. She was named to the 2012 Kentucky All-Star team.
A stress fracture kept Noble off the court for her first seven games as a Lady Topper before she logged four points, seven rebounds, two steals and a block in just 16 minutes in her WKU debut, a road win against Morehead State on Dec. 6, 2012. Noble played the following game at Kent State and recorded five points and three rebounds before tearing her right ACL, causing her to miss the remainder of the season.
Just 11 months and 10 days later, coach Michelle Clark-Heard said it was a proud moment for her to watch Noble check into her first home game as a Lady Topper against Murray State.
“It’s kind of like a mom,” Heard said. “I’m really happy for her because Kendall was one of the first ones who believed in this program and what we were trying to do…it’s been a tough ride for her. It’s been tough for me as a coach to see her have to go through it, but I’m super proud of her and her perseverance.”
Heard said the Lady Topper coaching staff will keep track of Noble’s minutes in hopes of keeping her on the floor. Noble played just 12 minutes against the Lady Racers on Saturday.
“She’ll continue to keep getting better,” Heard said. “We’re going to continue to keep monitoring her, so we can make sure we can have her for a while.”
While she’s spending her time working her way back into the lineup, Noble said she’s happy just to be back on the court with her teammates.
“I tried to play two weeks ago, but they wouldn’t let me,” Noble said. “I think I’ve grown a lot from it. I’m not used to sitting out. So, it’s not fun, but I’m glad to be back.”